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DeAndre’ Bembry, Patty Mills open up about playing amid outbreak without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving

This is a pretty hairy time for the NBA, its players, and staff. The Brooklyn Nets are certainly not immune. No pun intended.

On Friday, we got an update on the much-discussed star-studded team. But aside from headlines that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are in health and safety protocols and should be available to return soon (road games only in Irving’s case), besides James Harden’s return, the pandemic is impacting the rest of the group in many ways.

How do the Nets even make basic decisions with so much uncertainty, when players can be pulled at any point?

“A lot of these decisions are still to be made before the game, during the game, as the game goes on,” said head coach Steve Nash on Friday, a day before the Christmas showdown against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. “So we just have to be very fluid and adaptable, have a great attitude and take it as an opportunity.”

The Nets had at one point 10 players in health and safety protocols. They’ll get a few back Saturday, and they signed four replacement players (James Ennis III, Shaq Harrison, Langston Galloway, Wenyen Gabriel). So, Patty Mills, James Harden will have their hands full for the big-ratings game.

What about conditioning and practice time?

“We’ve only been allowed to do some [one-on-one] work for a couple days now,” explained Nash. “So guys have had just basically little workouts just with the coach and themselves. [Friday] we were able to have a little bit of a practice where we did some technical things and actually got up and down a little bit. … These guys haven’t been able to get up and down … They got a little bit in their legs today, before playing in an NBA game tomorrow.”

The team Brooklyn will field hasn’t been doing much, following three postponed games. Certainly we’ll see some lineups we didn’t expect to see at all this season log sizable minutes in L.A.

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What about the new policy about reducing the length of time a player needs to spend in protocols after a positive test? Could that impact the team in the near future? Nash added it’s possible Kevin Durant could fly out for the Dec. 27 game versus the Los Angeles Clippers if he clears protocols in time. But things are up in the air right now, and that does not feel like something they’re banking on now.

“I honestly don’t know what the rule change will be or how it will affect us, but I guess anything is possible. So we’ll see when the time comes, but right now I couldn’t answer that.”

In addition to Harden, DeAndre’ Bembry has also cleared protocols. He was mostly asymptomatic. What was his quarantine like?

“Well, luckily I had a little bit of workout gear with me,” said Bembry. “That was about it. I had a foam roller as well, wasn’t able to do too much, just get like a home workout. That was really about it. Try to stay isolated from everyone … light lift, little conditioning, that was about it.”

Following a shorthanded loss to the Orlando Magic last week, Blake Griffin talked about how Nets players are coping with the feeling that at any point another one of them may be told he’s out and needs to isolate:

Bembry echoed a bit of that sentiment Friday.

“Obviously the testing is pretty random when you get the results back, pretty much you get snatched real quick.”

Was Bembry sick?

“I didn’t have too many symptoms to be honest … throughout the whole time I felt good. I didn’t really have any symptoms so that’s why I thought it was kinda weird when I did test positive.”

Patty Mills has been one of the few Nets vets to get exposed to all of his teammates and manage to avoid protocols.

“It has been a few days, but it feels like months since we’ve all been together,” said Mills. “It’s probably been a good real rest for us to have over the last couple of days,” added the 33-year-old guard.

To Mills’ point, star Nets teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden are averaging 37 and 36.2 minutes per game, respectively. They both rank in the top five for that category in the entire league. One silver lining to this whole mess has been those two get to avoid playing in games for a bit. When Irving returns in the New Year, perhaps they can keep those numbers down for KD and The Beard.

But that break ends for Harden. We’ll get to see him fire up a few step backs on Christmas Day … and wait for news on whoever else might get “snatched up” next.

tyler huntley, lamar jackson, devonta freeman, latavius murray, ravens



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